Pros and Cons of Jet Boats
There are many types of boats on the market, each with subtle differences from one another. One type of boat with a significant difference from the rest is a jet boat.
These boats employ a completely different type of propulsion system. Basically, the boat itself isn’t any different than any other, but how it gets around the water is a big departure from a standard motor. Jet boats range in size from small personal watercraft all the way up to much larger boats. Here are some of the advantages and disadvantages of jet boats.
Advantages of a Jet Boat
The drive system on a jet boat works through an engine that turns an impeller, which pulls water in and then shoots it out the back to propel the boat.
The design avoids the bulk of a lower unit and propeller, so the jet boat creates much less drag and a shallow draft. In calm water, jet boats only need a few inches of water to operate. They can accelerate quickly and turn very efficiently. The lack of added mass on the motor also makes jet boats very nimble in tight quarters.
Disadvantages of a Jet Boat
First and foremost, durability can be an issue with this type of drive. The engines run at higher RPMs to turn the impeller, and that can wear down parts quicker.
Higher RPMs also mean more noise and reduced fuel economy, leading some boat shoppers to look elsewhere. Jet boats work well in shallow water, and that’s where you’ll often find them. But shallow water makes it easy for the intake to pick up debris that can damage the impeller. Clogs can happen over the grate, but most modern jet boats offer access from the deck area to check for problems.
The unique handling characteristics can be a problem for some boaters as well. Jet boats can creep forward even in neutral, which can be problematic around the docks, and reverse can be difficult to handle. Also, in choppy water the shallow draft makes it easy to bounce the drive up out of the water. When that happens, the impeller pulls in air, which can over-rev the engine and cause damage. It can also make the boat momentarily lose power when it lands until the impeller grabs more water. And finally, there’s the service. A jet drive is a unique animal, and some marine techs won’t touch them.
Should I Buy a Jet Boat?
If you run in shallow water and enjoy exploring rivers and creeks, the jet boat might be a great choice. On the other hand, quirky handling and the possibility of more maintenance may make the jet boat a no-go.